Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 26/10/2020

Commission document on EU involvement in the promotion of decent work published

A Staff Working Document providing an overview of EU involvement in the promotion of decent work worldwide has been published by the European Commission.

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Millions of workers around the world suffer from violations of their labour rights and from poor working conditions. Still today, more than 150 million children, some as young as five years of age, are victims of child labour, 25 million workers are trapped in forced labour and around 3 million die annually in work-related incidents.

The COVID-19 crisis is deteriorating the working and living situation of workers worldwide, in particular of those most vulnerable:

  • 1.6 billion workers in the informal sector lose job opportunities
  • the number of child labour is expected to rise again
  • migrant workers have experienced a rising level of xenophobia, food insecurity and overall worsening working conditions

The Commission Staff Working Document published on 20 October 2020 underlines the crosscutting nature of the decent work agenda with relevance in external action, multilateral fora, and other EU policy areas with outreach beyond EU and in global partnerships. The EU is active in different policy areas to promote decent work in global value chains, striving for a fair, sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The EU has impact on and its economy is connected to many workers, even when these workers live and work on the other side of the world. The EU is a big economic player and heavily involved in global value chains. It is part of the EU’s founding values to respect human rights, including labour rights, and promote sustainable development.

The President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen has made it very clear in her political guidelines: “I want Europe to strive for more by strengthening our unique brand of responsible global leadership” and as Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit pointed out: “The violation of labour rights must never be a competitive advantage. And we stand up for workers’ rights in the world as responsible global leader because Europe stands for human rights and dignity”.

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